Our interest in the materials used in constructing fuel tanks was prompted by an ongoing investigation within BoatU.S. to determine the effects of Ethanol in fuel as it slowly replaces MTBE as an additive to reduce air pollution. According to BoatU.S., one of the more serious apparent effects of Ethanol is that it creates sludge within fiberglass tanks as the fiberglass material slowly breaks down, and it has also (more importantly) caused a few fiberglass tanks to develop small leaks as the deteriorating process continues. 

Our survey suggests that the fleet of Atomic 4 powered sailboats may be faring somewhat better than our power boat counterparts. The survey indicates that slightly less than 5% of our tanks are constructed of fiberglass (28 out of 668 total reports), and those that are constructed of fiber glass seem to be surviving better than the fiberglass tanks used in power boats from the same period of time. 

There were only three reported problems within our fiberglass tank population, all of which involved the formation of troublesome sludge (presumably from the fiberglass material slowly breaking down). While there have been no reported leaks, one of these individuals has reinforced the inside of his tank with an Ethanol-resistant coating, and another person is planning to replace his tank. The third person (at least for the moment) is controlling his sludge development through good filtration. 

We contacted the firm who made the above repair and learned that Ethanol-resistant resin is now readily available and should be used on any repair work performed on a fiberglass tank. 
You can access the most recent report on the BoatU.S. investigation at the following link

An abbreviated report appears in the January BoatU.S. Magazine on page 7. There was also an earlier BoatU.S. article describing potential problems with Ethanol which appeared in the October issue of "Seaworthy". "Seaworthy" is a publication prepared by the insurance department within BoatU.S.. 

In summary, we recommend keeping in touch with your local fuel venders so that you will know if/when Ethanol fuel comes to your state. The article in "Seaworthy" lists the states that have converted to Ethanol as of last October. It seems to me to be important to know how long your tank may have been subjected to the effects of Ethanol. Then, whether or not you have a fiberglass tank, we recommend installing a good primary fuel filter (usually 10 micron) and a secondary filter just prior to the carburetor (usually a 1 or 2 micron mesh) to trap any sludge that may develop in the tank. This recommendation is based on the BoatU.S. finding that even in metal tanks, the presence of even small amounts of water have the potential of causing sludge. 
Finally, if you have a fiberglass tank and Ethanol comes to your state, keep a close eye on the condition of your tank, and be prepared to replace it or have it reinforced with an Ethanol-resistant lining at the first sign of problems. 
Thank you again for your participation in this important survey. We'll be in touch if/when we hear of any other developments (good or bad) in the ongoing conversion to Ethanol fuel. 
Best regards, 
Don Moyer 


Upcoming Events

26 May 2020;
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